US Forest Service's Pisgah-Nantahala Forest Plan gets 'failing grade' from more than 100 organizations, businesses; Center for Biological Diversity says it would dramatically increase logging, reduce protections for recreation, conservation areas

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ASHEVILLE, North Carolina , March 10, 2022 (press release) –

100 Organizations Give Failing Grades to Forest Service Plan for Quadrupling Logging

A report card issued by the Center for Biological Diversity and endorsed by 100 organizations and businesses gives failing grades to the newly released Pisgah-Nantahala Forest Plan. The Forest Service plan would dramatically increase logging in the country’s most popular national forest while reducing protections for its most important recreation and conservation areas.

“The Forest Service gets an F for a plan that opens up the Pisgah’s best places to logging,” said Will Harlan, a senior campaigner and scientist at the Center. “The only way to address the climate emergency and the extinction crisis is to protect more of the natural world. This plan issued under the Biden administration does exactly the opposite. It’s a travesty.”

The forest plan decides which areas will be logged and which areas will be protected. This blueprint will guide forest management for the next 30 years.

Today’s Pisgah-Nantahala Forest Plan Report Card summarizes the government’s 2,000-page plan and grades it on 10 key issues, including trails, old-growth, recreation, water, climate and protected areas. Expert analysts gave the plan passing grades on a few issues, but overall, it flunked.

The report card also offers a cheat sheet with 10 ways to fix the plan. These steps include protecting all remaining old-growth forests, prohibiting logging on steep slopes and in trail corridors, strengthening protections for rare species’ habitat, keeping carbon sequestered in mature forests to protect our climate, and safeguarding more than 101,000 acres of the wildest and most biologically diverse portions of the Pisgah-Nantahala.

The forest plan received a record-setting number of public comments. More than 92% of all comments supported stronger protections for the 1.1-million-acre forest.

“The plan utterly ignores eight years of public input,” said Steven McBride, lead organizer of the I Heart Pisgah coalition. “It is a failed plan and a missed opportunity.”

One of those missed opportunities was a failure to safeguard the proposed Craggy National Scenic Area, which would protect old-growth forests, pristine headwaters, and panoramic views from the Blue Ridge Parkway. Craggy has widespread support from local communities, city and county governments, and more than 150 businesses and organizations, including the timber industry. However, the Forest Service plan places more than 4,000 acres of Craggy in its highest-priority logging designation.

The forest plan’s highest grade in the report card is a D. However, the plan overall gets an F for targeting more than 60% of the forest for logging, including a quarter-million acres of old-growth forests and rare species habitat. The plan also authorizes 300 miles of new roads and massively increases herbicide use without evaluating the risks to rare and endangered species.

A 60-day objection period for the forest plan ends March 22. Organizations and individuals can object to the plan. They can also make their voice heard through the report card’s web site: forestplanreportcard.org.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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